History of Seine Nets

The seine, or dragnet, is the oldest type of commercial fishing net. It has a long documented history and has been depicted in art as far back as the 3rd millenium BC where it was shown in Egyptian grave paintings. Ancient writers such as Ovid frequently mentioned the use of corks to support the top and leads to weight the bottom, which demonstrates that the seine has changed relatively little through history. In fact, seine nets changed relatively little until the past century with the introduction of modern materials.

Historically, seines were used in place of linen gill nets because the linen was not very effective in catching fish by the gills. Due to the materials available to ancient fishermen some nets were only used at night when the visibility of the net would not be as noticeable. Seines, however, could be used during the daytime as visible netting did not reduce the effectiveness of dragnets.

Seines hold a special honor in the Bible. Of all the nets mentioned in the Bible, the seine is mentioned more than any other, a total of nine times. In the Old Testament, written in hebrew, the word for seine was "herem" while in the New Testament, written in greek, the word was "sagene" from which we probably get the English word seine.

Matthew 13:47-48 reads "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a seine net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down, and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad."